By Leigh Howe
I think a story is published every day about thousands of jobs being outsourced to India, China, or Taiwan. The writer typically laments that foreign companies continue to take jobs away from Americans. These jobs include call center positions as well as more “tech”-related activities such as writing computer code and providing technical support. Many companies–General Motors, Delta Airlines, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard, just to name a few–have outsourced to India or to other offshore locales. In fact, the U.S. lost more than 540,000 tech jobs in 2002 alone, according to the Labor Department. Forrester Research claims that outsourcing was responsible for nearly 300,000 of those jobs.
However, a new trend tagged as “reverse offshoring” is taking shape and starting to give U.S. workers a bit of hope that jobs will be available at home. Driving this trend is not only the bad publicity and unhappy U.S. customers that result from offshoring failures, but more importantly, the strategy of foreign companies to have a base in such a lucrative U.S. market. Foreign firms want access to the wealthy U.S. marketplace and customer base. Also, new regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act require executives at companies to ensure the reliability of their IT systems and financial reporting upon threat of prison–a health incentive to keep your outsourcers nearby.
Foreign companies in the outsourcing magnets such as India and China are starting to hire U.S.-based consultants and technical workers. In fact, foreign investment in the U.S. doubled to $82 billion from 2002 to 2003. The Organization for International Investment (a trade association based in Washington, D.C.) claims this translates into about 400,000 U.S. jobs. So the U.S. could begin to even out the job loss to foreign outsourcing. If this trend continues, maybe the U.S. would even start to see a net increase in jobs. The global economy can work for the U.S., too.
Please share your thoughts on the outsourcing and “reverse offshoring” trends. What is happening in your communities? Are you seeing more inquiries and activity in your area from foreign-owned companies? Should you start actively recruiting Indian, Chinese and other foreign companies? As always, we welcome your feedback and comments. Please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.